Once you have decided that declaring bankruptcy is the only way out of your debt problems, and after you have cleared the eligibility criterion for filing chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to ready yourself for the actual process of filing bankruptcy. There are various ways of doing so and you are free to choose the most suitable option for yourself. You can seek professional help or do-it-yourself.
Besides submitting various documents, paying the fee etc, there are forms to be filled out. So, let’s take a look at how you can get the forms and the required help to complete them.
You can get federal bankruptcy forms in paper form or download them through the Internet. You also have the option of using bankruptcy software that asks you to feed-in information for automatically filling in the required forms for your use. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can get the services of a bankruptcy preparer or a qualified bankruptcy attorney. These are helpful in providing valuable assistance while filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy.
So, let’s take a closer look at all these options. You might use a combination of these options.
1. Via federal bankruptcy forms on paper – You can use the paper forms but you have to fill them without making mistakes or cutting. But since you have to fill them by hand, you always run the risk of making mistakes. Also, there is no personalized guidance available for filling in the form properly.
2. Via federal bankruptcy forms (electronic) on computer – The forms are available in an electronic form over the Internet and can be easily downloaded from the government website (https://www.uscourts.gov/forms/bankruptcy-forms). They are available as templates in Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat formats. You have to fill them out and submit them correctly in order to ensure smooth processing. You could do the whole process yourself if you have a good understanding of the chapter 7 bankruptcy law and the forms. The other option is to seek professional help.
3. Via bankruptcy software – Bankruptcy software can act as a good aid in filling out the required forms. Generally, such software is available and accessed through an online interface. Such software makes the process easier by getting the information from the debtor (through questions) and placing the information at the right places in the forms. So, you just have to answer the questions accurately and the software does the rest i.e. the required forms are neatly filled out by the software and made available to you through email or a download link. You can download, print these forms and file for chapter 7 bankruptcy. The plus point here is that you do not have to grapple with the intricacies involved. There is no need to fill in intricate forms or try hard to understand bankruptcy laws.
4. Via bankruptcy preparer – Such services are available through online mode too and are reasonably priced for people who cannot pay an attorney. A bankruptcy preparer service would understand all the forms, rules and the intricacies of the chapter 7 bankruptcy law. Their team comprises trained individuals who fill in the forms for the debtors and ensure that all the information is in place. Since this (filing bankruptcy on behalf of debtors) is their core job, they ensure that the various rules, exemptions etc act in your favor to strengthen your case for bankruptcy. Trained paralegals prepare and deliver the forms to the debtors at their doorstep or by e-mail. The bankruptcy trustees check these forms before they are officially filed in before the Federal Court.
5. Via a bankruptcy attorney – Employing the services of a bankruptcy attorney is the most favorable option available to a debtor. It might cost more than all the other options available for filling in chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions but it is by far the safest and the most conducive to a debtor’s interests. A bankruptcy attorney can guide you while filling out the forms, set the time when you should file bankruptcy, select the kind of bankruptcy you should file and can help you make maximum use of the existing exemptions. Moreover, he/she customizes your case according to your personal requirements that are specific to your case. A bankruptcy lawyer speaks for you in court and takes care of the legal intricacies involved.